Six Nations 2013: I love silencing the crazy crowds, says Manu Tuilagi ahead of England's showdown with Wales

England centre cannot wait to make his Millennium Stadium debut and revel in the reception

Manu Tuilagi has never once set foot inside the Millennium Stadium – considered by many to be the finest of all rugby union venues, although at least four grounds in South Africa give it a run for its money – so he is not entirely sure what to expect when he takes the field on Grand Slam business in two days' time. Happily for England, the human bowling ball is the last person on earth to lie awake at night worrying about the shock of the new, for the very good reason that he is not in the habit of worrying about anything.

"I've always wanted to go to Cardiff and watch a game in that stadium," he said. "The thought of playing there really excites me. I enjoy it when I'm playing against the home supporters – the crowd I like most in the Premiership are at Gloucester; they're really crazy – and if they close the roof at the Millennium, the noise level will be really loud.

"The way I see it, we're not the ones with the pressure on us. The game is in Wales, so they're the ones who have to perform. And anyway, we're really good at playing away. We haven't lost a Six Nations game on the road for two years."

The Leicester centre is not thinking in terms of England losing this one, either. He is far from arrogant – the very opposite, in fact – but self-doubt is not obviously a part of his make-up.

If Stuart Lancaster, the red-rose coach, asked him to play on the wing, thereby creating a midfield space for the Gloucester playmaker Billy Twelvetrees and his greater range of skills, he would simply shrug his shoulders and crack on with doing what he likes to do on a rugby field: that is to say, smithereen opponents when he runs at them and marmalise them when they run at him.

Lancaster is not expected to do any such thing when he confirms his starting line-up today. England are likely to make changes in both half-back positions – Owen Farrell for Toby Flood, Ben Youngs for Danny Care – and may well go with Tom Croft rather than James Haskell on the blind-side flank. There has also been a serious discussion about restoring the Harlequins prop Joe Marler to the front row in place of Mako Vunipola, who performed strongly on his first start last weekend, while the young Wasps lock Joe Launchbury will give way to Courtney Lawes if he fails to recover from the elbow injury that hampered him against Italy last weekend.

England's midfield balance is patently a matter for close examination over the coming weeks and months, but, in fairness to the coach, a Grand Slam game against the nearest and dearest on the less welcoming bank of the Severn is hardly the time to experiment. Especially as Tuilagi, for all his limitations as a creative force, has established himself as the team's chief source of tries. Since Lancaster took charge at the start of last year's Six Nations, Tuilagi has scored six of the things – twice as many as the scrum-half Youngs, his nearest challenger.

He did not find his way across the line against the Azzurri last Sunday, but then, neither did anyone else. These individual and collective failures were not, however, down to any lack of intent, according to his midfield partner Brad Barritt – the man charged with the task of holding England's defence together in the face of the serious threat posed by a Welsh back division just running into form.

"There was no shortage of ambition against Italy," argued the Saracens player. "The stumbling block was poor execution in the opposition 'red zone'. We'll need to show some patience against Wales, rather than try to do everything as fast as we can.

"We'll also have to be a lot more aggressive at the tackle area, especially if they pair Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric as their flankers. Italy stifled us in that department. In Cardiff, we'll need to get to the breakdown first and dominate the space."

If Barritt is England's go-to man in defence, he is one of the can-do men in the dressing room. He may not be immune to doubt like Tuilagi, but he is no one's idea of a pessimist. If the big prizes of title and Slam go the way of the red rose this weekend, he will not be in the least surprised.

"We'll see it as an accomplishment, but also as a stepping stone on the road to where we want to be," he said. "With a home World Cup coming up in 2015, we want to perform on the international stage with ever-increasing confidence. The next step in that process is this game in Wales and it would be a massive shame not to take it."

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing